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Around India, camera in hand

BOOK BAZAAR

Not often is an IIT-IIM grad seen touring the country with a camera in hand and sleeping on the pavement at times. Shubhadeep Roy did that for 12 months or more, covering 13 festivals across India. The journey culminated in The Country Within, a compilation of 13 essays of candid photographs that bring out the diversity and cultural richness of India.

Shubhadeep Roy. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

The coffee-table book, published by Alchemy, was launched at Crossword bookstore on Elgin Road in the presence of filmmaker Goutam Ghose, theatre director Rudraprasad Sengupta, photographer Sunil K. Dutt and others.

Sengupta spoke of his long association with the author through theatre. “Shubhadeep would coordinate our theatre workshops at IIT and IIM. He was very committed to the cause of theatre. This is a bridge-building book. There was a time when I wanted to tour India as a street singer. But my dream could not become a reality. Shubhadeep turned his into a reality,” said Sengupta. “The book is a manifestation of the author’s spirit of adventure.”

Dutt marvelled at the author’s courage in quitting a stable job for a life of adventure. “But this will make you immortal,” he said.

The book fascinated Ghose too. “Ours is a multi-layered country. Shubhadeep has made an interesting journey and captured many cultures. We should preserve this,” the filmmaker said.

Urged to shared his experiences, Roy spoke about how his plan to visit the Goa carnival was foiled and he landed up at Gokarna in Karnataka instead to witness the Maha Shivratri celebrations. “I roamed around the place with my heavy bags and camera. I took pictures of the wonderful celebrations till almost 3.30am and then having no place to sleep, I took a nap on the footpath,” smiled the author.

An evening of poetry

An evening of sensitive poetry and nostalgia greeted the audience at a book-reading session with author Ayesha Chatterjee, writer and scholar Anjum Katyal and musician Neel Adhikari.

Ayesha Chatterjee. Picture by B. Halder

The occasion was the launch of Chatterjee’s first collection of poetry, The Clarity of Distance, at Oxford Bookstore. The book was launched by Helen LaFave, the US consul general in Calcutta.

Katyal began the discussion with an observation: “The book looks slender but it packs a lot of weight. Every poem in the collection is very beautiful.”

The audience got a taste of Chatterjee’s poetry as she read out some of her favourites from the book. “I started writing when I was six. Poetry came to me much more naturally than prose. Writing is an addiction for me. I feel uncomfortable when I don’t write…” she said.